Yesterday we attended my oldest daughter’s Senior Awards Day. We watched with thankful hearts as they announced her awards – ironically (and perchance purposefully?) seated beside the students with special needs. I smiled as parents bragged on their children, each one touting the secondary school their child would be attending. As with most celebrations, my eyes teared up.
With every academic accomplishment, there’s always a cloud not far that whispers my son’s name. He is not “book smart”. His dyslexia and dysgraphia make school work a living nightmare. What takes most kids 3 minutes will take him at LEAST 20. It is wearisome and it is never ending. Yet, everyday, he gets up to face the torture before him.
As i watched the seniors smiling on the gym floor, I heard it…the questions and statements that always follow. “where is your child going to college? What school is he going to? What is she majoring in?” There isn’t even a thought that perhaps, just maybe, college is not on the radar for some. I remember back to my own high school days, praying for guidance in which college to pursue. Did I even ask God if college should be pursued?? In our acceptance “college is necessary” mentality, has college become (our) God?
We have four children, all talented in different ways. Our oldest has always wanted college, but we made sure to present all the options. Our second (who is smart as a whip) has always stated she will not go – instead, wants to become a realtor instantly. She will do great. She’s always been a hard worker and excellent saleslady. When telling someone once that one of our “bigs” was doing college and the other was not, I got the inevitable quizzical stare. “Military?” she asked. “No” i replied. I couldn’t believe the awkward silence that followed. It was as if I said she thought the world was flat. And then, there it was: “Well my child KNOWS COLLEGE ISN’T AN OPTION”
In our middle class lives, we’ve all heard it. I’ll bet most of us have even SAID it. But have we ever stopped to QUESTION it?
My husband graduated Valedictorian with a 30something on the ACT. I as well graduated with honors and we both worked our tails off while married to complete our Bachelor degrees, then MBA. And, yet…the men on my husband’s factory floor 12 years later were making MORE than him. With no debt. Yes, I’m serious. And I found myself thousands of dollars in debt later pursuing the same things I did BEFORE college (that produced a career that didn’t fulfill me personally). Hmmm….
What is this bill of goods we’ve been sold? Why such a glorification of academia?? I can tell you first hand, I cannot diagnose a failing transmission or fix one. Yet, here I sit in all my degreed “glory”
My mind instantly reflected on Jace. His options, so limited. So unfair. Where is his – or the special students beside me in their wheelchairs – award? For working four times as hard to barely pass??
“I know what you mean…college isn’t an option for my son, either,” I quickly responded. The thought used to sadden me, as if I’d failed as s parent. This same child who is the first to stop and check on people who’ve fallen at the skating rink and plays daily with his Asperger friend, often times giving him grace and saying “It’s ok Mom, it’s just his Aspergers…” this same child is to be pitied??
What have we come to in America when we feel we’ve failed if our children don’t pursue college? The recent college scandal in Hollywood attests that it is not merely a middle class issue….
As Christians, we should take EVERYTHING to the Lord in prayer, no assumptions, no exceptions. What seems wise and best to us could perhaps not be God’s will for us. Let us have the courage to be brave enough to let our children step out in bold faith and pursue what God has gifted them to do.
Yesterday was bittersweet, but only because I cannot see the future. That, as well as my children, belong to Him.